Fuller gets help from community in measuring health effects of pollution near highways
Abstract: Current literature is insufficient to make causal inferences or establish dose-response relationships for traffic-related ultrafine particles (UFPs) and cardiovascular (CV) health. The Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure and Health (CAFEH) is a cross-sectional study of the relationship between UFP and biomarkers of CV risk. CAFEH uses a community-based participatory research framework that partners university researchers with community groups and residents. Our central hypothesis is that chronic exposure to UFP is associated with changes in biomarkers. The study enrolled more than 700 residents from three near-highway neighborhoods in the Boston metropolitan area in Massachusetts, USA. All participants completed an in-home questionnaire and a subset (440+) completed an additional supplemental questionnaire and provided biomarkers. Air pollution monitoring was conducted by a mobile laboratory equipped with fast-response instruments, at fixed sites, and inside the homes of selected study participants. We seek to develop improved estimates of UFP exposure by combining spatiotemporal models of ambient UFP with data on participant time-activity and housing characteristics. Exposure estimates will then be compared with biomarker levels to ascertain associations. This article describes our study design and methods and presents preliminary findings from east Somerville, one of the three study communities.